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goldenecho

For the Hunger Games Fans...

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So, I was re-reading the Hunger Games today.    I've speculated a lot about the total absense of religion in the story (I mean, not a mention of any god, prayer, afterlife, or anything even remotely supernatural).   It definately seemed intentional.    I've wondered her reasonings:   whether she just didn't want her main characters to have to wrestle with spiritual questions on top of everything else, if it was for practical reasons like feeling like a religionless book would be more likely to be used in school, didn't want to alienate religious or non-religious readers, etc..    I've even speculated on the back-story of how a place that derived from the US could be so completely void of any trace of religion (my imagined explanation, the one I like to play with, is that the capital, like some other authoritarian regimes, hunted down and killed believers because, to quote something I can't remember exactly, "a peasant who believes in God can stand before a king un-afraid.

But, I just actually found a subtle Biblical reference in the text (something I completely missed during my first read through). It was something Katniss says about Rue while they are training for the games. It doesn't seem from the context that Katniss herself is referencing anything, but Collins certainly is.

"She can hit the target every time with a slingshot. But what is a slingshot against a 220-pound male with a sword."

Since I found that today I've been pondering the meaning here. Rue, unlike David, dies in her fight against "Goliath." That itself could be it...an ironic comparison to show the hopelessness of their situation, reality vs. myth.  But we all know that the "Goliath" in this story isn't the boy who ends up killing her, but the Capital itself, and the system of oppression that keeps the Hunger Games going year after year. And Rue's death, and Katniss' response to it, is largely what sets in motion the wheels that lead to revolution. So in a way, Rue WAS the stone that brought down the giant.

My take on it, anyways.   Would love to hear yours.

Edited by goldenecho
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Oooh, interesting!  When I first read the Hunger Games books, I must admit I read really fast to find out what happened.  Perhaps I will reread!

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Though I loved The Hunger Games, I know nothing about the author, so I’m just riffing from my own perspective.  As an atheist, it’s highly unlikely that I would ever right a book with any big religious references.  I wouldn’t call that “intentional”. There are lots of things I wouldn’t feel an urge to write about because they’re so far outside of my lane. Their absence wouldn’t be any sort of calculated decision, just irrelevant. 

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11 hours ago, elroisees said:

Oooh, interesting!  When I first read the Hunger Games books, I must admit I read really fast to find out what happened.  Perhaps I will reread!

Oh, I totally did too.   Re-reading it is so fun. 

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I think you are absolutely right. I love that Rue is the stone. I don't have the books here and don't want to re-buy, but I would love to knowcwhat other things you find. I can look on the internet but it is more fun with real people!

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6 hours ago, Carrie12345 said:

Though I loved The Hunger Games, I know nothing about the author, so I’m just riffing from my own perspective.  As an atheist, it’s highly unlikely that I would ever right a book with any big religious references.  I wouldn’t call that “intentional”. There are lots of things I wouldn’t feel an urge to write about because they’re so far outside of my lane. Their absence wouldn’t be any sort of calculated decision, just irrelevant. 

Maybe that's it.   Maybe I wouldn't have noticed it if I wasn't religious myself.   But it just seems like there are so many places where usually, even in sci-fi, religion is present.   People facing their death, various ceremonies that often would be given some sort of religious tie but here don't (a wedding, for instance), people grappling with their own moral failings, even war and revolt (where people often have religious reasons for joining or abstaining),  no prayers for safety of anyone, self or other, even though the main characters are constantly concerned for their families, etc....all of these are things where there would usually be someone, some character, relating in some way to that through a religious lens, even superficially.   There isn't even a character saying that they DON'T believe in God because of all the war, oppression, etc...    It wasn't that I would expect big religious references...but it was noticeable that the culture she created didn't have any trace of religion in it.

I've grown used to, in modern movies and books, even in historical settings where you would expect more people to be religious, that the main character is usually athiest, agnostic, or skeptical of religion...and apart from the occasional wise teacher role that the most religious characters will be either evil,  very annoying, or portrayed as sort of either pathetic or crazed.   (That irks me...especially in the historical contexts, where too often they don't offer any real reason why someone raised in a religious context would end up agnostic/atheist).

The absence of all that in the Hunger Games didn't bother me...it was just interesting.   It was a little refreshing actually that there wasn't the usual "fists toward the heaven" that often accompany dark, trying times in books and movies.  It made me think it was intentional because I can't think of a book covering these topics that didn't have any trace of religion at all, in the negative or positive, or even in passing.

Curious, when you first read the book did you notice the absence of religion in the Panem culture?

Edited by goldenecho

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2 hours ago, goldenecho said:

Curious, when you first read the book did you notice the absence of religion in the Panem culture?

 

Nope!  It hadn’t occurred to me until your post, lol.

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I checked the index of my Hunger Games and Philosophy book to see what they said. If you are really into this, read Hunger Games & Philosophy: A Critique of Pure Treason. I'm typing one handed because my dog must have at least one hand on him at all times.

schadenfreude p. 75-89

"the sins of the fathers being visited upon the sons."  - "I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the sons for the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me" Exodus 20:5 The book goes on to say "So it's not unthinkable that the crowd at Caesar's might feel that some measure of justice was being achieved by punishing the tributes..." p. 79 - 80

Savages, dehumanization -> Nazis extermination of the Jews . p. 80-81

human- nonhuman chimeras that think, look, and act like a human and the difference between rational and nonrational animals. Human beings = rational = privileged position as rightful rulers. Supported by Psalms 8:4-9 (New American Bible translation) p. 125-127

 

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Curious, when you first read the book did you notice the absence of religion in the Panem culture?

I never noticed this in the books, either. It’s not an element I tend to look for, though, and I echo what others said; I was reading the books pretty quickly. 

I don’t really think the Rue quote alluded to David and Goliath. I mean, certainly it is possible and it does fit the overall story theme, but I am more inclined to think that is simply because underdog vs. the mighty is an important theme throughout story-telling. 

I don’t, however, know anything about Suzanne Collins and what her personal beliefs are. 

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It's not something I even thought about and yes, I'm an atheist. It never even crossed my mind to wonder about it.

What I have wondered and I know I'm not the only one because it's been mentioned on fan sites, is why the wizarding community in Harry Potter celebrates Christmas.  I know that in the UK it's often celebrated as a secular holiday and that's the explanation I've heard most often, but it still seems weird. 😄 

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16 minutes ago, Lady Florida. said:

It's not something I even thought about and yes, I'm an atheist. It never even crossed my mind to wonder about it.

What I have wondered and I know I'm not the only one because it's been mentioned on fan sites, is why the wizarding community in Harry Potter celebrates Christmas.  I know that in the UK it's often celebrated as a secular holiday and that's the explanation I've heard most often, but it still seems weird. 😄 

Hmmm. As a huge HP fan I gotta say, good point! It would make sense for them to have their own holidays centered on some famous magical figures. 

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24 minutes ago, Lady Florida. said:

What I have wondered and I know I'm not the only one because it's been mentioned on fan sites, is why the wizarding community in Harry Potter celebrates Christmas.  I know that in the UK it's often celebrated as a secular holiday and that's the explanation I've heard most often, but it still seems weird. 😄 

It doesn't really surprise me, because there's a lot of Christian themes in HP.  There's even a Bible verse on the Potters' graves - "the last enemy to be overcome is death," which is from 1 Corinthians 15:26.  So I always pictured the British wizarding world as having a similar proportion of Christians as Muggle Britain.

Edited by forty-two
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3 hours ago, Quill said:

I never noticed this in the books, either. It’s not an element I tend to look for, though, and I echo what others said; I was reading the books pretty quickly. 

I don’t really think the Rue quote alluded to David and Goliath. I mean, certainly it is possible and it does fit the overall story theme, but I am more inclined to think that is simply because underdog vs. the mighty is an important theme throughout story-telling. 

I don’t, however, know anything about Suzanne Collins and what her personal beliefs are. 

David and Goliath is by far the most significant sling and stone reference in Western culture. For an author to use that imagery accidentally would surprise me.

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OP--nice catch, totally makes sense.

Re. Harry Potter, the books become increasingly Christian-sounding to me as the series progresses, and the last one or two are practically at the C. S. Lewis level Christian content and allegory.  There are lots of allusions, and the Resurrection Stone quote is only the most direct.

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7 minutes ago, maize said:

David and Goliath is by far the most significant sling and stone reference in Western culture. For an author to use that imagery accidentally would surprise me.

But in a story that in NO other respect alludes to, mentions or acknowledges any faith system, much less one based on the Judeo-Christian scriptures? It doesn’t make sense to me, personally. 

Rue, as a character, seemed to me meant to indicate that big-sister bond, because Katnis took care of Rue as a stand-in for Prim. This is a technique that lets the reader still empathize with the plight of the innocent children, even though Prim could not be depicted in that section of the book. 

Besides, Rue died, unlike David. 

But I could be wrong, of course. As I said, I don’t know anything about the author’s beliefs. It just seems strange to me that a book empty of religious references would have one. 

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20 hours ago, goldenecho said:

Curious, when you first read the book did you notice the absence of religion in the Panem culture?

I did not.  Probably because I read them fast, but also, I think, because the absence of religion seems to be the dominant feature of most "set in real life" movies, books, and stories (not to say that HG is set in real life).  I'm surprised by the *presence* of actual religious influence, not its absence.  Growing up, all the twaddle series I read had the same absence of religion as HG: all the Sweet Valley series, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, the Baby-sitters' Club, Thoroughbreds, plus a dozen others - all religion-free.  The twaddle-y TV shows likewise had no mention of religion: Full House, Home Improvement, Step by Step.  For more contemporary examples: the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Arrow TV show, Psych, Monk, Chuck, Leverage, Sherlock, White Collar.   Shows willing to be controversial or shows that tried to explore important topics would have occasional episodes that involved religion, but your fluffy, feel-good books and shows?  As starkly religion-free as HG.   

I only tend to see plot-relevant religion in speculative fiction and fantasy; and even then, I'd say more sci-fi than not is religion-free, and in more fantasy than not the religion is window dressing - there to add atmosphere, but it doesn't impact how characters actually live or the direction of the plot.  (Even Harry Potter, which has so many Christian themes, still doesn't have any overt religion - no overt religious beliefs or practices appear anywhere, no character is a devout believer in anything religious).   And even stories where religion is pertinently present - a real force in the world and in the characters' lives - too often the religion is either the enemy or something to overcome. 

Edited by forty-two
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1 hour ago, forty-two said:

It doesn't really surprise me, because there's a lot of Christian themes in HP.  There's even a Bible verse on the Potters' graves - "the last enemy to be overcome is death," which is from 1 Corinthians 15:26.  So I always pictured the British wizarding world as having a similar proportion of Christians as Muggle Britain.

 

Or even have a deeper, more nuanced version of the stories.  Magic would give whole different meanings to the miracles.

 

Suzanne Collins is Catholic I think,  https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/881569-recently-learned-that-suzanne-collins-author-of-hunger-games-is-cathol

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2 hours ago, Lady Florida. said:

What I have wondered and I know I'm not the only one because it's been mentioned on fan sites, is why the wizarding community in Harry Potter celebrates Christmas.  I know that in the UK it's often celebrated as a secular holiday and that's the explanation I've heard most often, but it still seems weird. 😄 

 

It's quite often celebrated as a secular holiday in the states as well. 

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I noticed the absence, but thought it was intentional for effect, and not just unimportant to the story so it wasn't mentioned. Showing that there was nothing above the State, and what can happen when the state only serves itself and the few in power. 

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Ancient myths have become pervasive enough that authors may use them without implying their own belief system. A Sisyphus character doesn't mean the author subscribes to ancient Greek religion, for example.

I think David and Goliath is as present and available to Western authors as the Greek myths, and possibly more.

I saw Rue as a straightforward martyr on first reading. "Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies..."

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A school librarian rewrote the entire Hunger Games series (including some prequels) from Haymitch Abernathy's point-of-view. I love her stories even more than the original series. They are smart, fill in so many gaps since Katniss is an unreliable narrator, and are more mature. Fernwithy, the author, posited that religion would have to go deep underground in Snow's Panem because he wouldn't tolerate loyalty to anything but himself. She also had this whole theory of Deistric 4 having underground Catholisism and District 8, deeply committed to Judaism. I think she wrote an essay on it. I adore what she did with the series and am still in awe of all the work she put into it.

The rewritten Hunger Games and prequels:

https://archiveofourown.org/series/61184

Her essay on the History and geography of Panem (but alas, sans religion theories)

https://archiveofourown.org/works/1917024

Her LiveJournal Page:

https://fernwithy.livejournal.com/tag/hg%20fics

 

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6 hours ago, elroisees said:

Ancient myths have become pervasive enough that authors may use them without implying their own belief system. A Sisyphus character doesn't mean the author subscribes to ancient Greek religion, for example.

I think David and Goliath is as present and available to Western authors as the Greek myths, and possibly more.

I saw Rue as a straightforward martyr on first reading. "Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies..."

Definitely drawing on Judeo-Christian figures and traditions is not limited to those authors who want to specifically invoke the religious meaning attached within those communities. These exist as significant cultural types and references.

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9 hours ago, katilac said:

 

It's quite often celebrated as a secular holiday in the states as well. 

Yes, but it's a very different attitude. 

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Harry Potter does have people in church at a Christmas Service the day Harry and Hermione visit Godric's Hollow.

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4 hours ago, maize said:

Harry Potter does have people in church at a Christmas Service the day Harry and Hermione visit Godric's Hollow.

Yes, those people were muggles. What puzzles me is the wizards celebrating Christmas. Though they don't mention going to church they do have Christmas break.

Edited by Lady Florida.

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41 minutes ago, Lady Florida. said:

Yes, those people were muggles. What puzzles me is the wizards celebrating Christmas. Though they don't mention going to church they do have Christmas break.

So many of the kids have muggle parents. 

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41 minutes ago, Lady Florida. said:

Yes, those people were muggles. What puzzles me is the wizards celebrating Christmas. Though they don't mention going to church they do have Christmas break.

The fact that wizards are buried in the churchyard strongly suggests that wizarding families living in Godric's Hollow were also associated with the church there.

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41 minutes ago, Lady Florida. said:

I'm not denying that the wizards celebrate Christmas, just questioning why.

I would imagine that wizard culture is not entirely divorced from local muggle culture, including religion.

The grave markers for both Dumbledore's sister and Harry's parents include Biblical quotes (Mathew 6:21 and 1 Corinthians 15:26 respectively).

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23 hours ago, Quill said:

I never noticed this in the books, either. It’s not an element I tend to look for, though, and I echo what others said; I was reading the books pretty quickly. 

I don’t really think the Rue quote alluded to David and Goliath. I mean, certainly it is possible and it does fit the overall story theme, but I am more inclined to think that is simply because underdog vs. the mighty is an important theme throughout story-telling. 

I don’t, however, know anything about Suzanne Collins and what her personal beliefs are. 

 

To me it seems to blatant...small child with a slingshot going up against a large man with a sword (exact weapons David and Goliath had).     And, it's one of the better known Bible stories, and even among the non-religious the "David vs. Goliath" story it used to point out exactly the theme you mentioned (underdog vs. the mighty).  So, while I don't think it's necessarily has any religious meaning here, I can't see how she could have used those exact weapons "accidentally." 

 

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12 hours ago, Lady Florida. said:

Yes, but it's a very different attitude. 

 

How so? Curious because I can't think of how a secular Christmas would be that different from one country to the next - to me, it means you do stuff like getting together with family or friends, you might have a tree and decorations, you exchange gifts. You don't go to church to worship and you don't celebrate the birth of Christ. 

 

 

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On 4/10/2019 at 6:51 PM, Quill said:

But in a story that in NO other respect alludes to, mentions or acknowledges any faith system, much less one based on the Judeo-Christian scriptures? It doesn’t make sense to me, personally. 

Rue, as a character, seemed to me meant to indicate that big-sister bond, because Katnis took care of Rue as a stand-in for Prim. This is a technique that lets the reader still empathize with the plight of the innocent children, even though Prim could not be depicted in that section of the book. 

Besides, Rue died, unlike David. 

But I could be wrong, of course. As I said, I don’t know anything about the author’s beliefs. It just seems strange to me that a book empty of religious references would have one. 

 

Well, I think Rue dying, unlike David, might be part of the point.  A "reality" vs. "myth" type of thing.   And while the culture of Panem doesn't show any traces of religion, there is a lot of references to Roman myth (Trident, used by Neptune, God of the Sea, Cornucopias had ties to Roman mythology, etc.).   So, she's not completely avoiding references to religion...it's just that the references aren't about religion.   They're about other things.   This is the only Biblical reference I've found so far, and sort of why I was surprised to find it.   But it's still too on the nose to be an accident. 

But everything you said about Rue and Prim and the Big Sister bond, I agree with...I don't see how her making a reference to David and Goliath concerning Rue would undermine that.  

Edited by goldenecho
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7 hours ago, goldenecho said:

 

Well, I think Rue dying, unlike David, might be part of the point.  A "reality" vs. "myth" type of thing.   And while the culture of Panem doesn't show any traces of religion, there is a lot of references to Roman myth (Trident, used by Neptune, God of the Sea, Cornucopias had ties to Roman mythology, etc.).   So, she's not completely avoiding references to religion...it's just that the references aren't about religion.   They're about other things.   This is the only Biblical reference I've found so far, and sort of why I was surprised to find it.   But it's still too on the nose to be an accident. 

But everything you said about Rue and Prim and the Big Sister bond, I agree with...I don't see how her making a reference to David and Goliath concerning Rue would undermine that.  

What I was saying, inelegantly, is that I don’t think the story of Rue has any religious purpose in the book. That if it is an allusion to the David and Goliath story, it is only such because “underdog vs. Giant” is an important mythical theme throughout story-telling. Now - it may be that, when she was writing the story, having already designed the character of Rue to be the innocent stand-in for Prim, she thought, “What skill or weapon should Rue have,” she might have said, “Oh! I have the perfect idea! I will make her a crack shot with the slingshot! Like David up against Goliath!” Maybe. I meant I don’t think it was religious messaging. 

I have read before that C.S. Lewis did not plan The Chronicles of Narnia as Christian allegory, which - hello! Jadis ate a fruit from the Tree of Life! In a garden that was protected! The Lion that goes willingly to slaughter! Edmund as a follower who was redeemed! And so on...So that is my point. I don’t think Suzanne Collins said, “I want to weave in a Christian story; now, how to do it...” IMO, the Rue character had a specific literary purpose and if she got a slingshot as her weapon to highlight her “tinyness”, it was to align with the storytelling myth. IOW, it wasn’t for Christian purposes. 

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18 minutes ago, Quill said:

What I was saying, inelegantly, is that I don’t think the story of Rue has any religious purpose in the book. That if it is an allusion to the David and Goliath story, it is only such because “underdog vs. Giant” is an important mythical theme throughout story-telling. Now - it may be that, when she was writing the story, having already designed the character of Rue to be the innocent stand-in for Prim, she thought, “What skill or weapon should Rue have,” she might have said, “Oh! I have the perfect idea! I will make her a crack shot with the slingshot! Like David up against Goliath!” Maybe. I meant I don’t think it was religious messaging. 

 

This makes sense. In Western societies even many (most?) non-Christians know the major stories so it's become part of our literature tradition to allude to them. Sometimes it has a religious meaning, sometimes it doesn't.

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11 hours ago, katilac said:

 

How so? Curious because I can't think of how a secular Christmas would be that different from one country to the next - to me, it means you do stuff like getting together with family or friends, you might have a tree and decorations, you exchange gifts. You don't go to church to worship and you don't celebrate the birth of Christ. 

 

 

From what I've heard from friends in the UK (both online and RL friends) the attitude is different than it is in the U.S. It's very common for the holiday to be seen as just a secular celebration. Non-Christians aren't  looked down on for it. I don't know how to really describe it. An example is our own @Laura Corin who sings in a church choir even though she's an atheist, And that's accepted. It would not be seen favorably if atheists in the U.S. joined church choirs just because they like to sing and like the songs/music. (I'm hoping that by tagging her she'll see this and do a better job of explaining than I've done). 

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2 hours ago, Quill said:

What I was saying, inelegantly, is that I don’t think the story of Rue has any religious purpose in the book. That if it is an allusion to the David and Goliath story, it is only such because “underdog vs. Giant” is an important mythical theme throughout story-telling. Now - it may be that, when she was writing the story, having already designed the character of Rue to be the innocent stand-in for Prim, she thought, “What skill or weapon should Rue have,” she might have said, “Oh! I have the perfect idea! I will make her a crack shot with the slingshot! Like David up against Goliath!” Maybe. I meant I don’t think it was religious messaging. 

I have read before that C.S. Lewis did not plan The Chronicles of Narnia as Christian allegory, which - hello! Jadis ate a fruit from the Tree of Life! In a garden that was protected! The Lion that goes willingly to slaughter! Edmund as a follower who was redeemed! And so on...So that is my point. I don’t think Suzanne Collins said, “I want to weave in a Christian story; now, how to do it...” IMO, the Rue character had a specific literary purpose and if she got a slingshot as her weapon to highlight her “tinyness”, it was to align with the storytelling myth. IOW, it wasn’t for Christian purposes. 

Absolutely.   I wasn't meaning to suggest that she did  have a "Christian meaning" using this reference, and sorry if my original post seemed to say that.  

 

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1 hour ago, Lady Florida. said:

From what I've heard from friends in the UK (both online and RL friends) the attitude is different than it is in the U.S. It's very common for the holiday to be seen as just a secular celebration. Non-Christians aren't  looked down on for it. I don't know how to really describe it. An example is our own @Laura Corin who sings in a church choir even though she's an atheist, And that's accepted. It would not be seen favorably if atheists in the U.S. joined church choirs just because they like to sing and like the songs/music. (I'm hoping that by tagging her she'll see this and do a better job of explaining than I've done). 

That's really interesting!   Thanks for sharing. 

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21 hours ago, Lady Florida. said:

I'm not denying that the wizards celebrate Christmas, just questioning why.

 

Why wouldn't they have their own beliefs about it?  They know magic exists, maybe they have a whole theology built up around Jesus being a wizard too.  Maybe he's the reason the rule against doing magic around muggles exists.

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2 hours ago, Lady Florida. said:

From what I've heard from friends in the UK (both online and RL friends) the attitude is different than it is in the U.S. It's very common for the holiday to be seen as just a secular celebration. Non-Christians aren't  looked down on for it. I don't know how to really describe it. An example is our own @Laura Corin who sings in a church choir even though she's an atheist, And that's accepted. It would not be seen favorably if atheists in the U.S. joined church choirs just because they like to sing and like the songs/music. (I'm hoping that by tagging her she'll see this and do a better job of explaining than I've done). 

Not quite the case. I sing religious music (Bach, Mozart, etc) in a choir that chooses those pieces because they are extraordinary music, but we sing in a concert hall and are not affiliated with a church. I see it as a form of acting. I try to embody the composer's emotion, just as I would a playwright's.

A CofE choir might welcome me, it's a very broad church, but personally, as an atheist, I wouldn't choose to join.

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26 minutes ago, Laura Corin said:

Not quite the case. I sing religious music (Bach, Mozart, etc) in a choir that chooses those pieces because they are extraordinary music, but we sing in a concert hall and are not affiliated with a church. I see it as a form of acting. I try to embody the composer's emotion, just as I would a playwright's.

A CofE choir might welcome me, it's a very broad church, but personally, as an atheist, I wouldn't choose to join.

Having lived in both Western Europe and the US it seems to me that we are more angsty maybe around questions of religion or lack thereof than parts of Europe?

My very secular high school choir in Europe sang a ton of religious music, both in school concerts and in performances at area churches. We sang for Catholic masses on multiple occasions and I doubt that 1/10 of the choir were practicing Catholics.

Some school choirs in the US won't or aren't allowed to touch religious music.

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On 4/10/2019 at 2:43 PM, Quill said:

 

I don’t, however, know anything about Suzanne Collins and what her personal beliefs are. 

Suzanne Collins is Roman Catholic.

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2 hours ago, maize said:

Some school choirs in the US won't or aren't allowed to touch religious music.

 

It is perfectly fine for a public school to choose religious music for a performance. Not so much for a graduation or other event, when the song is part of the event and not a separate performance. Some schools do avoid it out of an abundance of caution, but the rules are generally straightforward - if you are not trying to promote a certain religion, you are fine. That is not such a difficult distinction as people make it out to be. 

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2 hours ago, Laura Corin said:

Not quite the case. I sing religious music (Bach, Mozart, etc) in a choir that chooses those pieces because they are extraordinary music, but we sing in a concert hall and are not affiliated with a church. I see it as a form of acting. I try to embody the composer's emotion, just as I would a playwright's.

A CofE choir might welcome me, it's a very broad church, but personally, as an atheist, I wouldn't choose to join.

Ah, okay. Thanks for clearing that up. For some reason I thought it was a church choir.

2 hours ago, maize said:

Having lived in both Western Europe and the US it seems to me that we are more angsty maybe around questions of religion or lack thereof than parts of Europe?

 

This is what I was trying to explain. The lack of angst extends to celebrating Christmas.

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On 4/11/2019 at 2:07 AM, Lady Florida. said:

 

What I have wondered and I know I'm not the only one because it's been mentioned on fan sites, is why the wizarding community in Harry Potter celebrates Christmas.  I know that in the UK it's often celebrated as a secular holiday and that's the explanation I've heard most often, but it still seems weird. 😄 

In UK terms it would be odd if they didn't celebrate Christmas, I think. Christmas is so much part of secular culture. My atheist parents celebrated Christmas, as do I with my sons.

I do think that because we have no formal separation of church and state to be policed, there is not so much angst about boundaries.

I posted this long ago as an exaggerated but nevertheless recognisable example of a nativity play in a State Primary School (Public Elementary School) - a mixture of popular culture, Bible story and whatever will please the kids:

 

Edited by Laura Corin
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Echoing Laura, Harry Potter contains lots of English culture. It pervades even the wizarding world, because they may be wizards, but they are still English. 

As Laura said, being Anglican is so entwined with English culture that to be English is to be Anglican, except if you aren't (lol). This was explained to me by a Londoner the other day (and I have English relatives who would agree). Yes, there are plenty of other religions and other forms of Christianity, but the monarchy is head of the church, and so the gov't isn't totally separate from the church. It is part of the traditional identity of the nation. 

 Now the monarchy is a figurehead,  but it didn't traditionally work that way. So different from the U.S.!

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At least to me, some of the angst in the US also seems to stem from some of the predominant types of Christianity. Growing up in a fairly Catholic area, we were excused during the middle of the day to walk to the local Catholic Church for religious education classes. The non-Catholic kids just got an extra recess on those days. Our public middle school was actually the old Catholic high school and therefore connected by tunnels to a convent and CatholicChurch. Again, we were excused during the day to attend Confirmation classes. 

But, there was absolutely no attempt ever to convert anyone to Catholicism. There were several other churches in my small town and it was not until I went to college that I was even exposed to the idea of being saved or converted or that some people weren’t true Christians or that certain religions were the correct ones and everyone else was condemned. Truly, I never experienced these ideas or beliefs before and I had no idea some didn’t consider Catholics true Christians. 

So I think if you are in an area or country where the predominant religions are not trying to save or convert people or impose their religious views on others through legal or other means, then there isn’t such the angst as you will find in other areas or countries. Another difference between the UK and the US seems to be the overall levels of people who identify as religious.

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There's so many presumptions here to me.

I found Hunger Games to be very religious.  Maybe because I'm Catholic too? Idk.  I don't see an absence  of religion in it so much as the manifestation of religious suppression.

It never occurred to me that wizards couldn't be Christians, so of course they celebrate Christmas.  It's like the false debate of science vs faith to me.  They make no sense because science never has denied God, it simply illuminates more of His design.  So being born magical wouldn't necessitate denying God either.

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On 4/12/2019 at 9:03 AM, Lady Florida. said:

From what I've heard from friends in the UK (both online and RL friends) the attitude is different than it is in the U.S. It's very common for the holiday to be seen as just a secular celebration. Non-Christians aren't  looked down on for it. I don't know how to really describe it. An example is our own @Laura Corin who sings in a church choir even though she's an atheist, And that's accepted. It would not be seen favorably if atheists in the U.S. joined church choirs just because they like to sing and like the songs/music. (I'm hoping that by tagging her she'll see this and do a better job of explaining than I've done). 

I'm confused about how a secular Christmas is different in the UK vs. the US.  Although I am Catholic, I don't remember our family emphasizing the religious aspect of Christmas all that much during our family celebrations.  Our religious observance of Advent and Christmas was somewhat separate from our family celebration.  We put up a tree ... I didn't know why, we just did.  We hung lights.  We exchanged presents and had a feast of special foods.  How we celebrated as a family didn't look any different than the secular celebrations going on around us.  We didn't go around discussing Christ's birth during the family dinner.  I have lots of atheist friends who celebrate a secular Christmas and put a lot more effort into their celebrations that we do.  It is really in the past couple of decades that I have seen a pushback against a secular Christmas from many Christians.  But the cultural celebration (going by the huge consumerism of the time) is largely secular.  

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